South American Record-Holding Swimmer Delfina Pignatiello Retires at Only 22

Argentine record-setting swimmer Delfina Pignatiello has announced her retirement at just 22 years old.

Pignatiello is the Argentina Record holder in the 200 free (tie), 400 free, 800 free, and 1500 free in long course, plus the 800 and 1500 freestyles in short course.

She also holds South American Records in the 800 and 1500 freestyles in long course, plus the 1500 free in short course. She famously broke the South American Record in the 800 free while wearing her Airpods, forgetting to remove them before the race.

Pignatiello’s best long course times came during the 2019 Mare Nostrum series. She didn’t race at that year’s World Championships, but instead focused her effort at the regional Pan American Games. There, she won gold medals in the 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles (though she missed her times from the Mare Nostrum Series) and served as Argentina’s flag bearer at the closing ceremonies.

At the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, Pignatiello finished 27th in the 800 free in 8:44, 20 seconds slower than her best time, and 29th in the 1500 free in 16:33, 42 seconds slower than her best time.

Pignatiello, who has 759,000 followers on Instagram and 103,000 on streaming service Twitch, faced a lot of criticism after her performances at the Olympics. So much so that she closed social media accounts and stopped performing on Twitch. She would eventually give a TEDx talk about the pressure, saying ““After 9,000 hours of training, more than 3,000 dives, hundreds of races, several gold medals, I touched the wall in Tokyo 2020 and I realize that I did not do the time I wanted nor did I end up in the position I dreamed of and the only thing I thought at that moment was what they were going to tell me on social media. How could it be that what mattered most to me was going to be the look of a bunch of people I didn’t know?”

“In my heart, the pride, joy, and honor of having represented our blue and white all of these years with such passion will remain forever,” Pignatiello said in announcing her retirement (translated from Spanish). “Now I would like to tell you that a few months ago, I made the decision to step aside from high performance and competition. Sport is part of my life from another side, I still swim and being in the water will always be my place in the world.

“I bought a camera and embarked on an artistic path that I am exploring with great curiosity and desire to learn and continue to grow. It makes me very happy and made me dream again.

“Thank you to those who accompanied me this far and those who choose to continue doing so. I always encouraged them to chase their dreams. Today I add: also dare to ‘kick boards’ and start a new game! Always choose your path with your heart, with love, courage, and dedication.

“I hope they become the child they always wanted to be.”

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Ken
3 months ago

Good luck Defi in your next phase of your life.
Trained many times at our pool when in Australia at was a pleasure.
Best wishes from All Saints

SprintDude9000
3 months ago

Social media ruins people

Pvdh
3 months ago

Sometimes you just swim one 1500 too many and you call it quits. Can’t blame her

NMQ
3 months ago

As I said in another post, hope she is happier with this new career after some tough years for her. She’ll likely make more money with less pressure too, which is cool.

From an egoistic pov, a real shame. One of the brightest talents of the country sport by sport lost at a young age (and unfortunately, one of many). It’s her life and her decisions, of course, by I wonder what would have been if she made different choices like swimming for NCAA or giving less focus to social media. Her career, while short, is amazing. But she never swam LC worlds (one of the questionable decisions made over the years) and her Olympics were a bit sad. I… Read more »

Jimbob
3 months ago

More to life than swimming. Good for her for realizing this at a time when she can still be anything, do anything she wants.

NathenDrake
3 months ago

Another brutal underachiever after a promising junior career. How she never tried to swim in NCAA? No real winning abitions.

Joel
Reply to  NathenDrake
3 months ago

Not everyone in the wold wants or needs to swim in the NCAA. She achieved many things in her swimming career. Leave her alone.

NMQ
Reply to  NathenDrake
3 months ago

She wanted to stay home. One of the questionable decisions that hurt her career IMO.

Jimbob
Reply to  NMQ
3 months ago

Yeah, she should’ve moved to the United States {NCAA) to please other people to train in a sport that wasn’t get first love anymore, so that maybe she could have a go at a pro swimming career that even many of the best swimmers don’t find fully satisfying?

Do I have that right?

To be very honest, pushing beyond burnout rarely works and, even when it does, is rarely worth the opportunity cost. 4 years in your mid 20s is a huge opportunity cost to live a life that isnt for you.

Last edited 3 months ago by Jimbob
NMQ
Reply to  Jimbob
3 months ago

She didn’t go to the USA to stay with her family, study at home and keep working with her longtime coach. That was the plan for her swimming career. Just like Popovici. Not because she didn’t love the sport. Two years later she changed the coach and started to do other activities. And now she is retired. I just wonder if the other way would have been different.

Blake pierogi
Reply to  NathenDrake
3 months ago

Bro, sit down and shut the f up

NathenDrake
Reply to  Blake pierogi
3 months ago

GG A.SHOLE

Becky D
Reply to  NathenDrake
3 months ago

It’s insightful comments like these that always have me coming back to SS.

fed
Reply to  NathenDrake
3 months ago

As a matter of fact, for foreign swimmers it’s still questionable if you improve when you join the NCAA. the results are mixed and it’s a completely different system that s based on yards. So i don’t necessarily question that. but she could have moved to australia!!!

Troyy
Reply to  fed
3 months ago

She was training in Australia before covid

Blake pierogi
3 months ago

I liked her photography, perhaps she could do some swim work. Congratulations on a career anyone should be proud of.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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